The former Mayor and a councilor from Daanbantayan in Cebu are in hot water for anomalies that attended the financial grant to RBA Quail Raisers Association. Ma. Luisa Loot and Samuel Moralde are set to face trial before the Sandiganbayan for Malversation of Public Funds and one count of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).
Records of the case showed that on 31 January 2007, RBA requested the local government for financial assistance for the expansion of its agri-business. On 28 February 2007, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was entered into by and between Daanbantayan and RBA granting the loan to the association in the amount of
P500,000.00. Moralde claimed to be the Chairman of RBA.
During implementation, it was found that Loot and Moralde failed to comply with the conditions in the MOA such as the periodic monitoring and evaluation to ascertain the progress and accomplishment of the projects, proper utilization of the fund and compliance; monitoring of records of all transactions of the quail raising project to ensure its repayment.
To date, the loan remains unpaid.
As a defense, Moralde claimed that the devastation caused by Typhoon Frank in June 2008 forced the RBA to seek condonation of the loan. He further claimed that the documents of RBA were destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.
The Office of the Ombudsman gave no credence to respondents’ defenses.
According to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, “respondents acted with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence.”
Investigation found that Loot entered into the MOA without authority from the Sangguniang Bayan. Moreover, there was no diligence observed by respondent Loot in the grant of the loan to ensure its repayment. According to the Ombudsman’s Resolution, “there was no periodic monitoring or evaluation of respondent Moralde’s quail egg farming. Non-enforcement of RBA’s contractual obligations by Loot is indicative of negligence and/or grant of unwarranted benefit, preference or advantage in favor of respondent Moralde, who, for his part, also failed to comply with the provisions of the MOA.”
The Ombudsman also noted that “nothing in the records show the existence of any request for condonation or any action taken by the SB on the request. Even so, the fact remains that prior and after the typhoon, respondent Loot failed to conduct monitoring and evaluation to ascertain the progress of the project and proper utilization of the funds.”
“No record of any transactions related to the implementation of the project was submitted in evidence,” added Ombudsman Morales.
Malversation is committed by a public official who has custody or control of public funds by reason of the duties of his office and misappropriates, takes, or through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to take the funds. On the other hand, Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 prohibits public officials from causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.